Lotus Durham officially opens its doors

Sam Bisby

By: Sam Bisby

On a sunny February Wednesday morning, it was a pleasure to finally see our new Lotus dealership in Durham officially open its doors. Not only that, but also become the first Lotus showroom to have the exquisite 3-Eleven for all to see.

The day saw numerous test drives, many being left slack-jawed by the awe of the newest Lotus in the range and our first sale.

Star attraction

Although our opening day was a rather big deal, there was no getting away from the fact that we had Lotus’ new £85,000 track-orientated 3-Eleven in the showroom. Its presence was unavoidable and drew people straight to it once they entered the dealership.

Lotus Opening

You can read here about the track monster in more detail, but in Road guise alone it serves up over 400bhp and reaches 0-62mph in little over 3.0sec. Meanwhile, the bombastic nature of the exterior was a sight to behold, with that rear wing not least drawing the eye, as well as such elements as its doorless, permanently open cockpit and race-harnessed seating.

Just 311 examples will be built and they’re likely to be snapped up rather quickly, we think.

Opening day

As a key part of our official opening, we had the three core Lotus models on show and also available for test drives, from the compact yet mighty Elise to the stunning new Evora 400.

Lotus 3-Eleven

We had a great mix of current Lotus drivers and those new to the brand all enjoying a brisk drive in a car of their choice. It’s fair to say the Evora got most of the attention, but the Exige S also had its fair share of outings and our Elise S was snapped up after its first test drive, with its lucky new owner collecting the potent sportscar on Saturday.

Driving the Evora 400

This fortunate soul, meanwhile, had an opportunity - and one that was duly taken - to have a test drive of his own in the superb Evora 400 during our first official day open.

Admittedly there were some slight nerves going out onto public roads in an £80,000 sportscar, but I’ve been lucky enough to drive a few high-performance vehicles in the past so ultimately felt comfortable getting behind the wheel of the Evora.

On start-up, there’s a raucous bellow behind your head as the engine blasts into life and the exhaust roars into action, before settling down into a lovely deep burble. Yet, there was more I could do to enhance this blitzkrieg of an aural sensation, and that was to press the sports exhaust button; in doing so, the sound behind - without even going near the gas - immediately heightens and you know you’re in for a treat.

Pulling out of the forecourt, the Evora carries that sound further as you go through the initial two or three gears and you can tell it’s wanting you to fully stretch its legs. It’s a good job, then, that about a minute out of our Durham branch, the road opens up into a spiralling sprawl of tarmac that allows you to really see what the Evora 400 is all about.

Backing off to allow some room in front, the Evora’s supercharged V6 gets its chance to shine. Not only does the powerplant freely rev through the gears, but the mid-engined layout, in what is still essentially a compact car to a degree, offers a level of balance seldom found elsewhere.

Through this balance, you can really enjoy the handling as the Evora urges you into each corner and you can feel the rear-wheel drive set-up helping you all the way, while the wheel in your hands give you all the information you need. Also, despite being a focused sportscar, the Evora is very compliant in its suspension thanks to clever damping, making for a rather nice experience altogether.

So, the $1 million question: has anyone got £80,000 I can borrow?